FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – At a March 9th Peace River Regional District meeting, Board members voted to move forward and have administration sign the agreement that will see fire dispatch services officially moved to Vancouver Island.
Chris Cvik, Chief Administrative Officer with the Peace River Regional District says that the decision to move forward came from another piece of correspondence.
“Correspondence means that if an item is ‘correspondence’, it is usually there for some action from the board and they can either file it or they can respond in some manner. So when that item came up, the board looked at the response from the City of Fort St. John and then they had some discussion and then the resolution was passed.”
The resolution that was passed gave permission to the Chair and Chief Administrative Officer to sign the five year agreement with North Island 9-1-1 for fire dispatch services for the entire region.
The correspondence that the City of Fort St. John had sent was a letter stating that a deadline they had been given to provide notice of whether or not they would try to do dispatch themselves, was not enough time.
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman explained in a letter that they had a lot of information to weigh before they could make a decision.
“In response to your letter of January 17,2017 requesting clarification of Fire Dispatch plans for the City of Fort St. John, I can offer the following comments on behalf of Council. At Councils direction, administrative staff is fully engaged in assessing the options available with respect to the provision of Fire Dispatch services, specifically within our municipal boundaries.
As you may appreciate, in matters of this importance, it is imperative to examine the full range of options available to Council, in a careful and well-reasoned manner. As we have stated on numerous occasions, public safety and the wishes of our constituents are at the forefront of our thought process.
As such, we are unable to finalize our decision until the full range of options has been brought back to Council for deliberation and consideration. Please be advised that the City will be unable to make this determination by the February 28, 2017 deadline.
The aforementioned report from staff is scheduled to come before Council by end of March, 2017 at which time Council will be able to assess the information provided. Depending on the complexity of the options provided by staff. Council reserves the right to use the appropriate time necessary to give the matter a fulsome deliberation. We respectfully request your patience in this important matter.”
Cvik says that despite the letter, PRRD Board members voted to move ahead.
“So basically the board said ‘we heard what you are saying Fort St. John, but we are still giving direction to administration to finalize the agreement with everyone involved’.”
He also says that if Fort St. John did decide to provide their own fire dispatch services, it could make things a little complicated.
“It would because fire dispatch is a regional function which means, whether you are in Pink Mountain or Toms Lake, everyone pays into that function so if Fort St. John were to continue to do that, they would still have to pay into the function because it is a long process and there are no guarantees that the Province would even allow them to have their own services.”
Everyone voted in favour except for Director Byron Stewart and Alternative Director Gord Klassen, both Directors for Fort St. John.
Cvik says that the takeover date is still being worked out but that a tentative date is scheduled.
“It is still being worked out and that was one of the reasons we went to the board because the contract wasn’t signed and so put yourself in the perspective of North Island 9-1-1, are you going to go out and buy some equipment for this if you don’t have a finalized contract in place? The date when the switch would basically get turned on is planned for October of 2017 but that it is a tentative date.”
Now that the Board has voted to have administration sign the agreement with North Island 9-1-1, they have contacted the company on the Island and they are now preparing the draft contract. Once it is received by the PRRD, lawyers will review the contents which can take around 2 weeks.